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Kitchener Travel Guide

Kitchener is about an hour’s drive from Toronto and is amalgamated with two other industrial cities, Waterloo and Cambridge, forming the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. Of the three cities, Kitchener is the largest with a population of over 250,000. More than half of the residents are of German descent, which is a good thing as the city’s German heritage is what makes it unique. Kitchener was first settled in the early 19th century by German Mennonites. This Protestant sect initially settled in Pennsylvania but moved up to Canada during the American Revolution because their pacifist beliefs weren’t welcomed by the Yankees. Their descendents have lived in the area for years, working the farms and faithfully adhering to their strict beliefs. Mennonites use horse-drawn buggies and avoid modern machinery. The men wear black hats and suits while the women wear small bonnets and long dresses. Their picturesque way of life have become a major attraction for tourists.[1]

Every year in early October, many people flock to Kitchener and Waterloo to celebrate nine days of Oktoberfest. Kitchener’s German heritage is celebrated, as people gather to drink beer and eat German food. Dancing, sports events, and music bands form the basis of entertainment. Many tents are set up to hold an estimated 600,000 people. Anyone interested in attending should book accommodations well in advance.[2]

Kitchener Market
The Kitchener Market is another main attraction of the city. It is set up in a modern building at the intersection of Frederick Street and King Street East. Various Mennonite and Amish crafts, baked goods, cheeses, and sausages are sold from May to October on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. Even those who are into Mennonite and Amish goods come just to see the families and farmers all dressed up in their traditional clothes with their horse-drawn buggies.[3]

Joseph Schneider Haus
The Joseph Schneider Haus is located at 466 Queen Street South near the Kitchener Market. This German Mennonite house was built in the 19th century and has been restored to look as it did in the 1850s. Demonstrations of everyday activities and special events take place at the house to give visitors a better idea of what life was like back then. The Schneider Haus is open everyday from May until September.[4]

Another trip into the past can be had with the Woodside, located at 528 Wellington Street North. This is the childhood home of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. The house has been restored to look as it did in the 1890s when King used to live there. Inside, his life story is depicted by displays.[5]

Doon Heritage Crossroads
The Doon Heritage Crossroads is a great place to look at authentic pioneer buildings. It is located outside of Kitchener to the south. Many of the buildings have been restored to look like they did in the days of early settlement. Some of the buildings include a railway station, church, general store, a museum with Indian and pioneer artifacts and displays, and a 19th century Gingerbread House complete with a collection of dolls. Special events, festivals, demonstrations, and exhibitions take place regularly. It is open daily from May to December as well as for limited hours during the rest of the year.[6]

Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.

[1] Carroll, 219-20
[2] Id. at 220
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id. at 221

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